Category: mental and spiritual health


I saw a quote from a friend of mine on Facebook this week that said “We need a leader like George Washington, not Dr. Phil.” I found this interesting. What is wrong with the straight shooting approach of Dr. Phil? I imagine Washington would get along fine with Dr. Phil. Apples and oranges? I have utmost respect for Washington and the fact he wouldn’t allow the newly formed government to make him king. However, I do think we need leaders more in step with 2015 than 1776, that was quite awhile ago. The image of a leader coming in on a horse to kick ass reminds me more of another world leader I don’t particularly trust.

Disclaimer: I don’t personally think the machine of politics and business can be easily broken. It may never be. This doesn’t mean we don’t want to work towards a better more inclusive world.

The comparison of Dr.Phil and Washington got me thinking. What if we did have a nation led in a more inclusive way, understanding psychology and sociology.

Are individuals that different from nations? In my journey I have chosen to spend many hours looking at the issues that have helped to make me who I am. The good , the bad and the ugly. Sharing the junk in vulnerability.  I have made many mistakes, outright sinned against God, neighbor, family and myself, also endured many a negative thing and suffered from what was beyond my control. I have come through these processes realizing I am a pretty awesome guy, an over comer and adventurer! I have also played the part of selfish prick as well. I want the better. I want to be transformed into all I have been created to be. I am also comfortable with the imperfection of the journey because I am held and guided by Love/God themselves. God sees the good and not so good and I am still His beloved. His judgement/conviction in my life burns away the crap and it hurts.The more I try to hold on to it or justify it the worse it hurts. The negative in my life had/has to be acknowledged consciously otherwise it works itself out unconsciously.

What if we had this attitude as a nation? What if we collectively dropped our defensive posture and honestly acknowledged our sins? What if we all got excited about the possibilities and opportunities we possess? What if we stopped looking for enemies within and abroad? I believe Jesus only gets lip service in our society because His ways contradict all we “know”. What if bravado and pride blind us from being able to heal the multi-generational sins? We, as Americans, all have guilt by association. If we lay claim to the greatness, let us also acknowledge where we have fallen short. We can no longer expect people to “get over” slavery and discrimination, extermination of native peoples, only country to nuke another, homophobia, chauvinism, xenophobia, self-righteousness, avarice, shaming the poor, etc.. Anymore than a victim of abuse can just “get over” what they experienced be it physical, mental, sexual or spiritual. When folks fool themselves into thinking they can do it all alone, without help from community, counseling, friends, they swallow down the pain and act in destructive patterns of addictions, abuse,isolation and judgmental ism towards self and/or others. Putting themselves on God’s throne as the arbiter of what is ultimately reality.

If every one would only agree with me, it will all be okay (Please see as sarcasm).

This is where the ultimate problem lies. We have no idea as a nation to live in humility. We (no matter the side) are always RIGHT!  Acknowledging our issues as a nation doesn’t mean hating or not loving our country. I have issues, yet I don’t hate myself! It means acknowledging reality. I believe God’s love for our nation is more about the people than how we do it, it is also a universal love of the peoples of all nations.

We are manipulated on every side to blame. We can change and move forward in this nation if that is what we want. I am afraid we would rather be right than effective. As I began the scary work on my own life and issues, pride would’ve gotten me no where. May we allow ourselves to be humble. Then we can truly Love our neighbors as ourselves and allow our land to heal rather than kill. Can we be vulnerable?

9but he (God) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Cor 12-9

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“Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”- Jesus

Ouch! This little bit of scripture has always felt heavy. Early on in married life, I would proof text it as a way to guilt and shame my beautiful, young wife (who thankfully was new to “churchy” life and forgave me being an ass) as a way to show her she would always have to be second and she should put me second too. What a drag?!!? This was my ego “doing what I should”, and my own insecurity. She naturally rested in God’s love far more naturally than me.   Have you ever been beat up with these verses?(sorry babe) Or beat yourself up?

What does Jesus mean? Under the influence of reading Robert Farar Capon (amongst others), I have found new insights on these hard words.  Let’s dive in!

Is there ever a time when so much is demanded? Think about it…it sounds so exclusive and limiting then becomes all-inclusive.

There is a time, not one we like to ponder. Ash Wednesday and Lent begin this week which point there. The most demanding thing is our eventual physical death. The journey Jesus is pointing towards is the first death of our ego which as we let go we can eventually face the physical death without clutching and grasping against inevitability.

I always saw this verse as a way to hate on myself for loving those close to me. What?!? I don’t think I am alone here on this. What if Jesus is suggesting our entire way of holding on, is more a projection and attempt to control? I can almost see a twinkle in his eye and a grin as he could say “You know you will die, right? Why not let me show you a less grasping way so when it comes, you’ll be more ready. It will feel like your dying, but you’re not, not yet anyway?”

On Google, ego is defined as a person’s sense of self. I am not a psychologist so anything I write is my opinion and experience :).  I would say the ego is who we think we are, not really who we are…deep…right?! It is our self-image, the mental projection of who we are. Our job/career, country, religion/spirituality(or lack), our family, our kids, our political opinions, intelligence etc. are how we experience the ego much of the time, unaware of its influence.

Here’s the rub…while those things are good, NONE of them define your worth! Not one. Look at little children. Any pretense? Any proving? Any ego? Jesus also said “Unless you become as little children, you will not see the kingdom of God”  The ego-lessness  of children shows the reality of the Kingdom in the here and now! Then we grow up and together with our environments fabricate our ego or false self  and it becomes harder to see the Kingdom.

This part of you will die, it will. The good news is, it’s NOT you! You are more than any projections! You are more than your image! “You cannot offend the True self. Any offense is the false self/ego.” – Richard Rohr

Learning to let go of who we think we are is the daily taking up of the cross.  The True Self is who we are “Hidden with Christ, in God” We can’t live aware of that all the time. It is the necessary work of suffering and dying. I don’t like it! But I also don’t like the ego’s lies of separation and alone-ness!

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.” -Jesus

This Lent may you find you are more than you think, so much more. May you find lies dying in the Light.  May you see your true worth and the true worth of all you lock eyes with.  May you live loved. May you learn let go.

 

Seek and you will find -Jesus

What does this mean? Most of my adult life has interpreted this verse in the typical “churchy”  way. In terms of seeking God and those sorts of things. The “seeker sensitive” churches are all about this for sure. But what if we are overly-religious in how we look at what Jesus said and miss the clear wisdom of the statement?

Observing my diverse group of friends as well as myself has brought me to the conclusion that folks really do ultimately find what they are seeking. We all tend to see what we want to see. For example; when I was a younger man and really into Left Behind type of spirituality I could see the end of the world looming behind every single news story. Also, when I thought humanity was really evil on the whole I would see evil behind everything as well. I liked politics back then and could always see how ‘my side’ had it right.

I never saw that my mind was already made up as I interpreted everything I saw so…..seeking, and I was finding. Thankfully, my journey has been one that has experienced much healing and over the past several years I had found what I had been seeking to be lacking and also a bit depressing. The hard part is that what I was seeking was always being confirmed so it made it hard to evaluate fairly other points of view. This isn’t just true for me on the ‘religious right’ though. I hear skeptics, secularists and cynics finding everything they are seeking to validate their own worldview as well.

I began to want and seek healing, love, truth, beauty and community and guess what, I keep finding it!  As I began to seek healing for the various issues of my life such as; family of origin, poor choices, shame and guilt, I found these areas being healed through the process. Life still hurts and often times these issues have to be re-addressed but that is ok.

I also saw healing in the lives of those who were seeking it. The power behind what I saw was their vulnerability in places that were loving and safe. Vulnerability, in many ways is simply being secure enough to admit we’re unsure about stuff or how to handle it and then asking for help. Seeing Love in action is the most powerful thing in the universe. Love never condemns, especially the vulnerable. I also have seen the Truth in action as people learn of their worth and live in that truth. When we are open and seeking Truth, even if it seemingly contradicts what we “knew”, we become astounded at the Beauty all around us. Although, I do still love the quote “The truth will set you free but tends to piss you off first.”  Then as all these things coalesce the community arises! I have my community of family and friends. This helps me see the vast community of humanity and include all.

If we seek division, we’ll find it.

If we seek negativity, we’ll find it.

If we seek to numb ourselves, we’ll find it.

If we seek to look down on others, we’ll find it.

If we seek to exclude, we’ll find it.

If we seek darkness, we’ll find it.

I encourage you to be aware in 2015. Aware to that which you already seek. Aware to new things to seek. Life is Good and life is tragic all at the same time. It does take eyes to see and ears to hear to catch glimpses of the bigger story. Continue to Seek and you will find.

This past week  my wife’s beloved Grandma, Mid, passed away. In November, I will have been an “official” member of this family for 15 years!  So, I had the privilege and honor to know and love this lady through her later years. She was 94, almost 95.  She taught me that a person can enjoy a happy hour without it becoming a drunk fest! She loved very well and it was evident at her funeral.

It is a shame that so often if a person is older when they engage in the next aspect of the journey that the pain is somehow dismissed. The death of a child or young person is truly tragic and can be very difficult to come to terms with but this doesn’t mean it is easy to come to terms with the death of an older person. The difficulty either way is the result of love.

A hard reality of life is that love equals pain because life carries as much loss as gain. Love gives us a sense of ownership to that which can never be truly owned.  I love my wife, my kids, my family and my friends. They are mine and I am theirs, yet we are all our own person. This is love.  If we allow ourselves to succumb to the true power of love the sadness is incredibly deep and hard. When we love deeply, we truly suffer when those we love are suffering. This is the great gamble. Only the deck is rigged. A great lie that is pervasive is that the pain is not worth it. Such bullshit!  It can be a subconscious lie that can cause us to detach and avoid. This is result of self-preservation gone wrong. When we seek to save our own perspectives more than reality we lose sight of the ability to allow love to have its way with us. When love has its way, you can lose all dignity. The ego doesn’t like this but its love is more self-serving which is an oxymoron.  The ego persistently communicates we are alone in all of this, yet Love whispers that we are not and have never been alone.

I believe this speaks to a way the Church has failed us all at times. When we suffer and love the rules are of no importance. The theology of in/out has no place. Spirituality is not about knowledge or praying a certain way or even understanding God in a way that can be taught rather than experienced. God is close to the brokenhearted and deep down that is known.  The gift to be shared is that God grieves with us! It is not a great plan of platitudes! Love is NOT a platitude. It is the actual reality when we have eyes to see and ears to hear. Love is overwhelmingly worth it! The hope I carry is that this is “Goodbye for now”.  The joy of the Love of Mid continues and will always be there until we see her smiling face.  This is faith, hope and love.  No certainty, no control, no knowledge. Faith, Hope and Love and that is enough.

 

This past weekend I finally went on a quiet retreat! In recent years I have come to the place of appreciation for the contemplative and mystic aspects of my Christian faith but it has all been abstract and romanticized in my mind.  I have never really unplugged. Ever. I have gotten away from it all in community at retreats and seminars that have truly been life altering.   Community is absolutely essential in the journey of healing. The solitude is a new thing for me, I like it.  I am coming to see the solitude and quieting is also essential.  To settle in on how loved I am and connected to all things is beautiful to pause and recognize. To stop talking and listen….

A friend and I went to stay for a a little over 24 hours at a Catholic Retreat (you do not have to be Catholic to stay at one of these places, Christ’s Peace House of Prayer Easton, KS) in the country. I had very little expectations for this experience so as to actually experience it. I was thankful that I had a buddy with me for this introduction to a quiet retreat. It was nice to see a recognizable face. We each had our own  simple, comfortable cabin. We went off on our own for the majority of the time.  Food was provided, it was simple and good. The director was very hospitable and kind.

I hiked a bit and sat at different shrines and relaxed in the moment. I discovered on my hikes that fear robs me of experiencing the moment. Be it a rustle in the forest, wasps, or ticks! It would snap me to self-preservation and draw me away.  The truth is; it is unlikely any of those things will result in my demise. Thankfully this was an awareness so I could respond  and not live in the fear reaction.  I returned to my cabin showered away the ticks and chiggers and relaxed a bit. Having little or no expectations allowed me to just be.  I read some and journaled a little. Mostly, I didn’t want to busy my mind. My focus was Jesus.

The director had a cool insight he shared when we arrived. The idea that contemplative prayer is not about spoken (thought) worded prayer but rather it is experiencing the feelings of praying.  The feelings that arise with the simple thought of Jesus. To allow the feelings to arise within at the contemplation of His wonderful name.  This is weird, I get it, but I don’t care. This insight is precious to me and allowed me to be present moment by moment to my experience. Did I get bored and restless? Not as much as I was afraid I would.  I imagine the challenge of boredom and restlessness would be more a challenge during a longer retreat.

Jesus is amazing to me. To become human and identify with humanity and the creation is beyond words.  For God to experience true suffering and identify with every aspect of human abuse and injustice is so beyond comprehension. The Vindicated Forgiving Victim who vindicates us all. The God who weeps.  The One who shows us what the Father is truly like.

This is the Jesus I love.

As I was spending my time alone I felt overwhelming peace.  I really was amazed by this peace. As my friend  would say “Shalom in da home”  I rested in it.  There was nothing artificial about it. Nothing worked towards.  Peace.

To recognize and feel peace

To recognize and feel love

To recognize and feel healing

To recognize and feel acceptance

To recognize and feel connection to everything

To recognize and feel Jesus…

The feelings of peace, love, healing, acceptance, and connection is the Love of the Father through Jesus being poured out by the Spirit.  Our minds can’t fathom it. It’s foolishness and I am glad. The fun of theology/philosophy can be adventures in the vanity of thinking about the God who is beyond thought.  To taste and see that I want more.

This was such a valuable appetizer and I am hopeful to engage in this practice for years to come. But in the everyday I want to choose more daily disconnection from technology and more connection to the real in all its forms.  May you disconnect and connect as well.

 

 

 

All I Can Do (Thank You) by MikesChair

I could write a love song
Tell You what I think You wanna hear
But it wouldn’t be good enough, no
Yea I could try so hard
To give it everything I’ve got
But I’m not ever gonna measure up
[Chorus]
All I can do is thank You
For this life I never deserved
Wanna thank You for the grace
I know I don’t have to earn
You love me, You love me
Your mercy is proof
All I can do is say thank You
All I can do is say thank YouIt would have been easy
But I’m glad You never walked away
Cause Your love runs deep for me
And I see this beautiful world
And it brings tears in my eyes
And I think it’s beautiful to be free[Chorus](Thank You)
For hope, for love, for all the ways You move
(You)
For everything You do
(You)
What else can I say but thank You
Thank YouI could write a love song
Tell You what I think You wanna hear
But it wouldn’t be good enough

[Chorus]

All I can do, all I can do, all I can do
Is say thank You
All I can do, all I can do, all I can do
Is say thank You

I heard this song for the first time the other day and wanted to throw up. I know that they are trying to say that we don’t earn God’s love and to be grateful for that fact but come on, there is a lot of baggage in this song and it is worth looking at.
Why does the American Evangelical Church insist on saying, over and over again that we are worthless and will never be good enough? Why do we have to continue to live a groveling life?  Why is nothing we do ever enough. Why are our gifts worthless? Is God so uptight and picky that he has no use for what we bring Him?
I think we have become stuck in a thinking that if we act as if anything we do is good we are somehow trying to earn God’s love so we repeatedly have to tell God we know we are crap and not worth much. How well does this work? How close can you possibly feel to a God who thinks so critically of you?  The only thing you can do is say “thank you?” ?? Seriously,???!?!?! This is the governing philosophy of the american church?

I have been blessed with 3 beautiful children who are still young and nothing but a joy to me. My love for them is not dependent  on them at all. It is constant.  A few years ago my daughter wrote me a love song. This song was so precious to my heart. Did it earn her a better place in my heart? No. Was it “good enough”? Or did that  question even come to mind?

 

The Bible may call us “sinners” but it also calls us children, adopted, and heirs. Why does the church insist on making sure God knows  that we know how “unworthy” we are? What is the Gospel? Doesn’t God becoming flesh and blood say something about the worth of humanity in the eyes of God? But oh no, we have to walk around hating ourselves for not measuring up to some standard God isn’t even looking at. I think this adds to the stress of what it means to be a christian today.

Our false self is what is almost always insecure, uncomfortable and “unworthy” as it tries to measure up. The persona, the act, the masks. Acting out of these to earn the approval of God or people will inevitably be a losing game. But even if my kids are acting stupid and making poor choices would their hug, laughter or conversations not be “good enough”? To some extent yes, but only because their life is limited. Not my ability to love and appreciate them in the midst of the crap. I tend to believe God’s love is even a bit more tenacious than mine.

God sees your True self. The one made in His image. His child,His love, His precious one, Beloved.
When Christ became a human he identified with you and He is now (and forever) your brother! He is your family. You are the child the Father always wanted. Your gifts, drives and passions are Spirit and life that you are giving back to the source.
So, write a love song- it’s good enough.
Enjoy this life- you deserve it.
You are of intrinsic value and always have been.
Live from your heart and share it with God and others.
The world is waiting and longing for people to reveal who they really are.

I was having a conversation with a friend a few weeks back that has continued to be on my mind. He was saying that in their house that they do not let their kids say “I’m sorry.” but rather say “I apologize for ________ and ask your forgiveness”.  His point that a sorry can become flippant and without much feeling or understanding. This made some  sense to me.

There is another thing about this that got has gotten me thinking and I shared it with a group of friends the other day and it jived with them. Here it is; how often does the word sorry turn into a noun when you use it?

Years ago at a company meeting I got told “You say you’re sorry a lot”. Well, I was fairly new there and was doing my job very well so now looking back, I realize I was trying to maintain my image of being a good plumber and a “nice guy”. But what happens in your heart when you are always saying I’m sorry?

I am becoming convinced it eventually becomes your identity. The crappy part is that the mistake you are saying sorry for also can become your identity. It can become an internal script where you are sorry because you are a mistake. Make any sense?

This unintentional process also takes you out of the actual relationship where you are expressing your sorry-ness.  I can become so wrapped up in myself that I wonder how accurate my “sorry” actually is.

This has not worked in my life and as often as I hear sorry out there  I imagine I am not the only one. I am going to pick up the tool of “I apologize for ________ and ask your forgiveness” so I can actually experience the situation and get out of my mind and present to those I am sharing my heart with.

The truth is I am not sorry as my identity. I do act wrongly and selfishly at times. I make mistakes but I am not a mistake.  You are not sorry or a mistake either. One more time, YOU ARE NOT SORRY OR A MISTAKE.

Sorry No More

I want to take a look at the Greatest Commandment and maybe see if there is more there that what my mind and heart typically read. Here it is from Mark 12-29-30

Jesus answered, “The foremost is, `HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD; AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’
What does this say to you when you read it? I must confess most of the time for me it was akin to being asked to have an obsessive compulsive thought process where God had to be first in EVERYTHING.  Anyone else out there read it that way? I think that thinking is rooted out of the thought that God is more concerned with obedience to rules than relationship.  Jesus himself showed blatant disregard for the rules of his day and in turn sought out the ‘unclean’. This WAS against the Law of Moses, at least if he wanted to remain ‘clean’ in order to seek relationship.
One thing I think we have lost in the modern church of the west is the ability to think on our own. We simply want to be told the rules or formula and we will attempt to live out of someone else’s hard questions being answered to them not us. It is almost as if we don’t expect to have anything revealed to us that has not been officially approved (see Bible Answer Man, The Pope,your pastor/priest,). Even though Jesus asked people how they interpreted things. Hmmm.
What if it is a command to be a fully engaged human? What if by simply being a fully engaged human you fulfill  the Greatest Commandment?
What if to love the Lord with all your heart means to actually be in touch with your heart? To really feel? To dive into the things that put the hard shell around the tender beating underneath? What if by really knowing and trusting your heart you are loving God?
What if to love the Lord with all your soul means to not be afraid to engage with the spiritual side of life? To freely question? To know in your core you were created on purpose? To not push down or assume this is not a part of you because it is not easily understood or because of the woundedness of others representation of a god you don’t recognize as real? To actually engage with Father, Son and Spirit and trust they are engaged with your very soul right this minute? What if by engaging your soul you are loving God?
What if to love the Lord with all your mind means to give yourself the freedom to think? To think outside the box? To dive into learning all about the things you want to? To be able to embrace your analytical or logical thinking? What if by using your mind you are loving God?
What if by loving the Lord with all your strength is being engaged with your full physicality? By engaging your body with exercise? By engaging your sexuality so you can be naked and unafraid?  By paying attention to what you put in your body? What if by taking care of yourself you are loving God?
What if this command really is to be human? To be fully engaged in your entire person? What would it look like to live this way. To live holistically (not a particularly modern Christian way of thinking). To see your entire self being you is actually the ultimate act of love to God and those around you?
I believe until you are actually able to love yourself it is impossible to truly love others which would make the other Great commandment impossible.
Is it possible that Father wants His children to be fully engaged in living life? I think so. Don’t push down or squash any part of yourself. You are of infinite value! Choose to believe this and engage your entire self. You are so worth it!

I know I’ve talked to many about this experience but it occurred to me I hadn’t really written about it. So here I go!

About nine years ago Emily and I embarked on the journey of Breakthrough. As anyone we were a bit apprehensive about it. I mean come on, it’s called Breakthough. This doesn’t exactly give you the impression of things being easy. They weren’t. I have no doubt that this time helped  me to identify some of the crap in my life that I knew was there and I knew was keeping me stuck . I just wasn’t sure what to do with them. During Breakthrough I learned some real tools to help me see lies for lies and truth for truth as well as fun for fun. This was hard work but necessary work if I really valued myself or those I love. My family of origin, while loving the best they knew how, produced a very unhealthy environment. I also had wounding from school and social groups. As I’ve heard said “no one gets through life without scars” and I was no exception. During BT  I began the journey to really trust myself.  Also, I learned that my mistakes did not and do not define me.  I would have to say this was the best experience next to marrying and having kids!

Life hurts, it just does. I  don’t care who you are or where you come from, that is the case for you as well. It may hurt right now. Does it for you?

Flash forward seven years later. We have three kids. I am doing well at work. But life had been losing something for me.

A few years back we lost a huge aspect of our community when our former church in essence got rid of our community. This was such a beautiful, life-giving and full of heart sharing group.  It was a hard time and we tried to start up a church but it didn’t work out. Emily and I were busy having kids and slowly disconnecting from some of our friends who really knew us. This had negative effects I did not realize at the time. We tried different church communities, almost always sensing something was missing. We finally settled at the community we attend now.  An open, inviting church that we have grown quite fond of. There was still a disconnect within me. In the past couple years I wore a good mask (so I thought) and fell into negative thoughts and behaviors that were  dragging me down. I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t measuring up for myself and to what I  unfortunately thought was God. I cognitively understood and remembered I was loved unconditionally by God but my shame wasn’t allowing me to internalize it. This led to repeating negative behavior and being afraid I was a screw up in my very core. I knew I was feeling defeated and life felt stuck.

In early 2011, after talking with Emily and friends who knew my heart I decided to do BT again. I am so thankful I did. Breakthrough does not fix you! However, it has helped me to reconnect with my heart and has given me the tools to be the courageous man I know in my core I am, so that I can continue to journey down paths of healing. This time was priceless to me because I have really gained the healthy outlook to go down those paths that seem scary but are where healing continues to be occurring.  I know now the very important value of community and friendships that understands this journey of wanting healing and wholeness. Wholeness is what we are made for, that inner ache within you that wants more is not lying to you, it is the evidence that more truly does exist. I refuse to settle any longer and this life is far too short for that! I feel more awake and alive than I have been for a while. I am following my dreams and my heart, before BT this recent time I can’t say I was fully engaged in this. It is hard to follow you dreams and heart when you feel stuck!

The journey continues, thankfully. Today when the rough issues from my past resurface or the disappointments of the here and now, I have tools to dive into the pain and deal with it instead of swallowing it. The greatest gift I am beginning to see more and more is that as I have embraced healing then I am able to shift focus from myself to have a  healthy other-centered love while maintaining who I am. I do not need those I love to define me and so I am able to love them much more freely. I still have issues and hang ups,  I am okay with this because I know they do not define me. I am on track for a life that is a heroic adventure rather than a tragedy.

So that is  Breakthrough to me. I do want to say to my friends that may have a fear that this is a “religious” thing. My experience is that it is NOT, far from it.  It does come from a christian understanding but I don’t think it is at all what you fear. If you feel a pull in your heart to dive in and get the most of your life, listen to it. You deserve it. Give yourself the freedom to heal.

Please feel free to email, call  or facebook message me if you have any questions or would like to talk.  The next Breakthough is right around the corner

http://www.heartconnexion.org

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”- Jesus

So what does this mean? Is it even possible? What the heck does Jesus even mean? Is he really talking to me?

What I believe Jesus is wanting from us is to really see people. To see another human being as the precious, unique creation that they are because they simply exist. I have heard it said that Jesus came to clear up God’s reputation and to that I truly agree. I have to wonder if he also came to truly establish our value as human beings? Do you see people or issues?

Over my life I have been hurt deeply by those I love and I have hurt those I love as well. I found myself so stuck at times when I only saw my pain and didn’t look at the life of those inflicting it.  Once I began to open my eyes to see that those around me were simply doing the best they knew how with the tools that they had it helped me see them. My mom hurt me much growing up but when I began to see her as an individual with hurts of her own, I began to see her hurtfulness as her acting out of her own pain. This does not excuse the actions at all but allow me to see her as a person who loved(s) me the best she knew how.

Abdalluh is a young man who has grown up in Afghanistan. His country has been at war virtually his whole existence. His father struggles to supply the needs of his family and acts out in rage at his own inadequacies. His mother’s voice is tender and loving but of no value outside their home. The family attends their local Mosque regularly where he is taught a mix of love and hate. Then his school is destroyed in a bombing limiting his ability to learn. Then food is dropped from the air from the same source as the bombs. Confusion sets in and sadness hurts. Anger, rage and hatred do not seemingly feel as bad.

Is Abdalluh your enemy? Does his life have less worth? Is he simply a causality of a cruel world?

What about Calvin? He is a teenager in the urban core. His mom had him when she was 15. She loves him but has little tools and continues to salve her hurt with drugs and relationships. His father, immature and fatherless himself, runs away from his responsibilities before winding up in prison for armed robbery. Calvin’s grandmother raises him along with the urban culture. She insists on church where he learns of unconditional love with a mix of not measuring up. He sees the money, girls and prestige the thugs in the neighborhood have so he starts hanging out with them.

Is Calvin your enemy? Does his life have less worth? Is he simply a causality of a cruel world?

When Jesus entered into our humanity, he entered into both Calvin and Abdalluh.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’- Jesus

Jesus is saying that you saw my worth as a human being and then cared for me. Anytime we choose to take away the inherent value of a person and turn them into something else we are losing sight of our common humanity.

I know people will say that if this were tried we would be destroyed by our enemies and they may very well be right. I do not pretend to know how these things would work. I simply want to raise the questions of how well the current way has worked? And also to ask if you personally could learn to see people? This is hard to do! We have to check our judgements in favor of love. Loving our enemies is not some magic Jesus thing found only through forgiveness. Rather it’s when we begin to see the fact that we are all in this journey together that the natural flow of grace, love, reconciliation and forgiveness will flow.

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